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Summary of Week 4

Summary of the week's learning and key issues in the health of newborns from Professor Joy Lawn.
JOY LAWN: So as we close this fourth week, we’re going to reflect on what we have learned about 5 million stillbirths and newborn deaths around the world. We have seen that there is great potential for change, particularly for newborn deaths with the Every Newborn Action Plan and targets that have been incorporated within the sustainable development goals. A target to reach 12 or fewer newborn deaths in every country per 1,000 live births by the year 2030. And this requires a major lift, particularly in Africa and in humanitarian settings. For stillbirths, fewer countries have signed on to the target, even though it was country consultations that demanded that there be a target.
This is not a formal part of the sustainable development goal framework. And that target of 12 or fewer stillbirths per total births, again, by the year 2030 needs major attention and action. And there are myths that we have bust during this week, particularly around the lack of data. There are data on stillbirth rates. We can track this. So the critical question is, where do these deaths occur? Why? When? We’ve learned that it’s particularly around the time of birth. And then we’ve also learned about what to do. And the most important parts around health during pregnancy, and the time of birth, and also for care of small and sick newborns are part of maternal and child health programmes.
But another myth is that any maternal and child health programme will automatically reduce newborn deaths and stillbirths. This is not correct. If we’re going to make the rapid progress we need to make in the next 10 years, we need intentional focus on specific interventions within these programmes. We need innovation. We need better data to drive change. And we have learned of many of these aspects. So for example– for care of small and sick newborns within hospitals, we really have an opportunity to drive rapid change. And we can’t possibly meet that target of 12 without doing that. So that’s looking back.
As we look forward into next week, where we will journey into the child part of the lifecycle, this part of newborn goes forward with us. So 50% of child deaths are in the neonatal period, those first 28 days. Shockingly, 1 million are on their birthday, their first and only day of life. So for child survival, newborn survival is fundamental. And as we look also at the full potential of a child, that they shouldn’t have disability, that they should reach optimal development, those are also strongly influenced by their health in utero and their start at the beginning. So as you journey forward into child health, take the newborn with you.
And think carefully, and learn, and join up so that we can change the health of the next generation all around the world.

We have now reached the end of Week 4. We have learnt that neonatal deaths and stillbirths total almost 5 million each year. There is great potential for change in this area, within the framework of the Every Newborn Action Plan and Sustainable Development Goals. To reach the target of 12 newborn deaths per 1,000 live births in every country will require a major increase in the rate of progress in many countries with an intentional focus on specific high impact interventions such as care of small and sick newborns within hospitals.

Next week we will journey into the child part of the lifecycle. As we move forward in to child health, remember that 50% of all child deaths are within the neonatal period, and that for child survival and development, newborn health is essential. We will learn of the remarkable progress for child survival and the lessons learned from this, highlighting conditions left behind and new threats to child health and development.

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Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action

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